Gastric tissue culture

Alternative names
Culture - gastric tissue biopsy

This is an examination of a sample of gastric (stomach) tissue for culture to aid in determining the presence of certain microorganisms which may be playing a role in certain diseases.

How the test is performed

Gastric tissue biopsy is obtained via an upper endoscopy. You may be given a sedative (or narcotic) to relieve anxiety and discomfort before this test. A local anesthetic is sprayed into the mouth and throat area.

A flexible fiberoptic tube is passed through the mouth, down the esophagus, and enters the stomach. The tube may pass through to the duodenum if necessary. The tube allows the health care provider to see the various parts of the upper intestinal tract and take a biopsy (sample) of certain areas. The sample is then sent for laboratory and pathology examination.

How to prepare for the test
No food or fluid may be ingested for 6 to 12 hours before the test.

For infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age and experience. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

How the test will feel
You may feel a gagging sensation as the tube is passed down to your esophagus. You may also feel cramping and a feeling of fullness if air is introduced to expand an area. You may have a sore throat after the procedure.

Why the test is performed
An endoscopy may be performed to determine the presence of ulcers for which pathology and culture specimens are often useful. It also aids in the diagnosis of cancers and other conditions. Certain infections may also be diagnosed by endoscopy, hence a culture of tissue obtained by endoscopy may be done.

Normal Values
The acidity of the stomach provides a major barrier to excessive growth of microorganisms. The presence of certain bacteria (for example, Helicobacter pylori) or other microorganisms (such as Giardia) is abnormal.

What abnormal results mean
The culture obtained from a gastric biopsy can detect certain microorganisms, such as Helicobacter pylori which plays a role in ulcer disease, as well as other pathogens which can cause upper intestinal infections.

What the risks are
The risks of endoscopy include a small risk of perforation (hole) and bleeding.

Special considerations
A sample sent for pathology is also an important adjunct to culture for the diagnosis of certain conditions.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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